By Junko Mochizuki, Adriana Keating and Reinhard Mechler, IIASA Risk, Policy, and Vulnerability Program

Flood in Davao City, Philippines, January 20, 2013. Photo credit: Jeff Pioquinto via Flickr

Flood in Davao City, Philippines, January 20, 2013. Photo credit: Jeff Pioquinto via Flickr

The year 2015 will mark a crucial milestone for the international development, climate change, and disaster management communities. Negotiations are currently underway to hammer out three landmark decisions: a much anticipated global climate deal to be agreed at the COP21 meeting in Paris, a new agreement on post-Millenium Development Goals  known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the post-Hyogo disaster risk reduction framework (HFA2) to be adopted at the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai. The outcomes of these three international forums will largely shape the global agendas for the next few decades.

The HFA2 builds on the knowledge and experience gained from 10 years of implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015, the first international initiative to offer a global blueprint for disaster risk reduction. Since its inception, 22 core indicators have been developed to monitor global progress across five priority areas, including building a culture of safety and enhancing national and local institutional architecture. The implementation has thus far shown mixed progress. The key remaining issue is the underlying drivers of risk and that the HF2 must address both the correction of existing risk and prevention of future risk creation.

On 10 and 11 February, the world’s leading experts on disaster risk management gathered at IIASA to begin designing an effective HFA2 monitoring system. At the meeting, co-organized with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), participants deliberated how the HFA2 monitoring system could address the remaining issues of risk creation, mainstreaming, and resilience building, and inform ongoing discussions on SDGs and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The meeting participants emphasized that the notion of resilience to  natural disasters or other unexpected events offers a unique entry point for shared discussions across the development, disaster, and climate change research and policy communities. The resilience notion of “bouncing-forward” stresses that societies must understand the risks they face, and be prepared use both pre- and post-disaster opportunities to implement policies that can reduce risk and advance development objectives. These are important additions to the disaster risk management debate which are essential to the post-2015 approach.

But many challenges remain. We need a concrete set of indicators to measure the multi-dimensional concept of disaster resilience. While we expect to see the adoption of quantitative disaster risk reduction targets—such as mortality, affected population, or economic loss reduction, we do not yet have a globally agreed methodology to measure disaster loss and damage. More fundamentally, an emphasis on loss data could send the world a wrong signal that disaster loss is all that matters. This speaks contrary to IIASA’s ongoing research. What we have found time and time again is that what matters most is a country’s steady management of underlying risk and resilience, whether or not a disaster has occurred.

As negotiations continue towards the climate, development, and disaster goals, it is clear that effective framework must be organized around a holistic understanding of well being and its systemic components. Over the coming months, researchers and analysts including IIASA staff will work with UNISDR to develop a global framework linking the concepts of risk and resilience.

About the authors

Junko Mochizuki and Adriana Keating are research scholars and Reinhard Mechler is the deputy program leader in IIASA’s Risk, Policy, and Vulnerability Program. Their current work at IIASA focuses on advancing the notion of disaster resilience, evaluating how novel and participatory system  analysis tools may be used to inform policy on disaster resilience building.

Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the Nexus blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.